Sunday, January 8, 2017

Two Dead Bananas and the Hope Diamond

For several days, two dying bananas have pleaded with me to put them out of their misery. However, the banana bread recipe I like best calls for four with two eggs and a moist yellow cake mix. Failing to find two more dead bananas at the grocery store on Friday, I bought a small Jiffy cake mix and decided to create a new plot twist. It worked.

When I mentioned the improvisation to a friend almost in the same breath with the usual Sunday whine, “I have to come up with a blog for tomorrow!”, she suggested spinning off the idea of story plot changes with the necessity of changing the recipe for banana bread. I demurred…she said, “You don’t like the idea.” But then, suddenly, I did!

Several years ago I wrote The Legend of Diamond Springs to submit to a call-out for a series of books based on jewels. I submitted--then withdrew--it. Long story. It has languished on my computer since then. Just before Christmas, I treated myself to a mini-writing retreat at San Francisco Bread Company and, without really knowing where the story was going, revised/rewrote the first six chapters. Now I’m ready to go with what I have--much like the two dead bananas rather than four--and bake up a new plot based on the same premise--a family legend that a blue diamond really exists somewhere.

Probably the best known blue diamond is the Hope, but there are nine others equally desirable and expensive.
·        The Heart of Eternity Diamond
·        The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond
·        The Imperial Blue
·        Blue Heart
·        Blue Moon
·        Mouawad Blue
·        Zoe Diamond
·        The Idol’s Eye
·        Winston Blue

You can read about all of them here.

The Hope Diamond, probably from India, has been around since the 1600s. It belonged to the Louis kings of France (XIV and XV) in turn but was stolen in 1792 when the royal jewels were purloined in a week-long spree. Sold and resold, it eventually came into the possession of wealthy American socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean from 1911 until her death in 1947. In 1958, it found a permanent home at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

At 45.52 carats and worth in the neighborhood of $250,000,000, it won’t be for sale to the highest bidder anytime soon! You can read more about it in the Smithsonian publication Hope Diamond The LegendaryHistory of a Cursed Gem (Richard Kurin, Harper Collins, 2006). The title gives you the idea that the famous diamond is shrouded in mystery, and perhaps it’s so.

Certainly Mrs. McLean suffered from multiple tragedies:  her son’s death in a car accident, her daughter’s suicide, the loss of her husband to another woman, and the death of a grandson in Viet Nam. Despite all of this, when she died at the relatively young age of 60, she did not think her tragedies were related to a cursed gem. An interesting aside is that the ex-wife of her second son married beloved actor Jimmy Stewart! And if you’re into the “cursed” thing, read about the 10 people supposedly affected by their dealings with the famous diamond.


Donna Alice said...

Never heard of making banana bread with a cake mix - learn something new every day. Mine is from scratch with flour, and sugar and three bananas. Working to get my blue diamond book back out for print too!! Can't wait to read yours.

MissyWhite said...

I'm obsessed with jewelry. And this blue diamond is absolutely amazing. I'm inlove. Even though, I love amber jewelry, I would be so happy to have this one. It's just perfect!